Acts of kindness

Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 17, 2005 at 10:45 p.m.

Help reduce stress of mom with sick kid

Research from California recently has shown that the more stressed the mothers of chronically ill children, the greater the wear on their DNA and the more vulnerable they are to a host of diseases.
Highly stressed mothers had undergone the equivalent of 10 years of aging compared to the low-stress group.
The Adopt a Family program ($10 per family per night) at the Gainesville Ronald McDonald House (1600 SW 14th St., Gainesville 32608) is a way for our community to recognize and support the 29 families a night who are here with seriously ill, hospitalized children.
These parents quietly attend to their sick children by day while the realities of their lives, the severity of their child's illness, the loss of their or their mate's job due to absenteeism, the loss of child care for children back home, loss of insurance coverage, repossession of a car or other household goods haunt their sleepless nights.
Please consider remembering these families.
It might even help your DNA and bring a smile to your face as you work to decrease the stress in your own life.

Natalie Settimelli Small,


King Commission lends a hand in community

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.
Established in 1985, the commission has continued the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by advocating and promoting non-violently the elimination of poverty and racism, and has worked to promote social and economic justice in Alachua County and the state of Florida.
Over the past two decades, the commission has accomplished many things, including establishing weeklong activities in 1985 to commemorate the death and celebrate the life of Dr. King.
In 1986, the commission completed the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens in downtown Gainesville. In 1986, the Martin Luther King Jr. Hall of Fame was created to recognize local citizens who have demonstrated and espoused those principles and deeds of Dr. King.
In 1988, U.S. Highway 441 was re-named the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Highway by the state Legislature.
To recognize the academic achievements, civic involvement and leadership of high school seniors, the Edna Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award was established in 1989. Since then, nearly $40,000 in scholarships has been awarded.
The commission was instrumental in spearheading the naming of the new $1.5 million multipurpose building built by the city of Gainesville in honor of Dr. King.
The commission also has sponsored workshops on culture diversity and the elimination of racism. We were instrumental in the implementation of the charter officer for equal opportunity for the city of Gainesville.
The commission assisted other agencies with the transition of the former Kennedy Homes residents . Finally, we recently collaborated with the University of Florida in the first annual "Helping Our Neighbors" program, which provided more than 650 food baskets to needy families in our outlying cities.
Our theme this year is "Empowerment for the Next Decade." As we move into our empowerment phase, the objective is to improve the lives and empower those who are impoverished and have been left behind.
To initiate these objectives, two events occurred during King Week. First, the commission, in conjunction with the SFCC Endowment Corporation, unveiled the "Kennedy Homes Scholarship Fund."
The commission donated $8,000 to the endowment that when matched with state and other funds, should total over $30,000 that will fund two scholarships a year for residents of the former housing complex.
The other event was the "Empowerment Workshops" that were held on Saturday at the King Multipurpose Center. One workshop dealt with "Restoring Your Civil Rights For Ex-Felons," while the other addressed "Expunging and Sealing Your Criminal Records." We believe that restoring civil rights and expunging criminal records would empower those who seek better employment, apply for state licenses, and most importantly, vote.
In closing, the next decade offers many opportunities for empowering our most vulnerable citizens. The question I ask of you today is, what can you offer to help?
As you ponder this question, the following words by the late Dr. King may inspire you to get involved: "Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, and a soul generated by love to serve."

Rodney J. Long,


Martin Luther King Jr.

Commission of Florida Inc.


Attorney gives legal profession a good name

I always find the "Acts of Kindness" letters interesting and inspiring, but the one published (Nov. 30) struck a deeper chord for me. The actions of criminal defense attorney Darby Hertz and her two legal assistants brought tears to my eyes.
As the mother and mother-in-law of two Tallahassee attorneys, I know well that there are good attorneys who care for people and who serve well those who pay and those who do not pay.
Unfortunately, these are not the ones who make the headlines. Like everybody else, I laugh at some lawyer jokes and even make a few good-natured ones myself.
I also care about the plight of homeless people, especially those like the dying man assisted by Hertz and her staff.
My thanks to Linda and Jennifer, the legal assistants who took heart and the time to remind us all that their boss and others like her give a good name to the much-aligned legal profession.

Georgia "Pete" Vickers,


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